Photo Essay

From Awestruck Fan to Friendship

Photographer at Play

Following my first JPG meet-up, four days in northern Italy with Antonio Lovison (goes by Lowison) and our spouses, I have a confession to make. Shortly after I joined the JPG community in September of 2008, I fell in love with Antonio's photography, but didn't make him a contact until months later. My delay boiled down to intimidation. Awestruck by Antonio's skill and artistry I, a passionate but inexperienced amateur photographer, doubted he'd want to comment on my photos or would appreciate feedback from photographer struggling to get beyond the automatic settings on her new Nikon D40X.

Then as my photography improved, I realized the connections between my development as a writer and as a photographer. That understanding not only resulted in adding Antonio to my contacts, but actively studying and commenting on his work, which kick-started an exchange of emails that began a friendship and eventually led to Antonio and his wife, Adriana, spending two days with Fred (my husband) and me at our home near Siena and two at their home in Padova. I could write pages about the wonderful times the four of us spent together and the keepsake moments I shared with Antonio and Adriana as we explored some of the Tuscan countryside, but that's not what this essay is about. It, though, figures into the equation of what I learned from when I became a member of the JPG community through my first JPG meet-up. And I'm hoping at least some of those perceptions will be helpful and/or of interest to other JPGers.

So let's start off by taking a look at the similarities between growing as a writer and a photographer. Writers develop their craft by writing, associating with other writers, reading a lot, and habitually dissecting the work of other authors, especially the parts that truly work and those that don't with the hope of avoiding the latter and using bits and pieces of the first to further develop their way of writing. Writers true to themselves, no matter how much they inject what they've learned from other authors into their writing, will produce original work, because each writer perceives the world differently. And the more a writer writes the stronger that writer's style or voice becomes.

Similar things can be said about photographers developing their craft, which makes the JPG community ideal for all those serious about improving their photography skills. Here we're not only encouraged to keep taking pictures, but given the opportunity to study photos of enthusiastic amateur photographers and those of highly skilled and artistic professionals, to give and get constructive feedback, to develop a network of contacts who can become our friends, as well as help us achieve our photography goals. In my own body of work posted on JPG, I can see how my photography has improved since joining the community. Yes, the encouraging feedback I've received is a big plus, but my photography has developed the most by studying the work of my contacts and focusing on what I really like or dislike within any given shot and incorporating what attracts or moves me into my own work.

Because of the relationship I see between the writing process and that of photography I don't fear producing photographs that resemble those of photographers I greatly admire, such as Antonio. Yes, the more I study his photos the more I can point to Antonio influences in my photography, especially in the shots I took while with him. During the times we took pictures together, we didn't discuss what we were capturing and I didn't consciously take shots reflecting qualities I marvel within Antonio's work and I what learned about him during our meet-up, but they can be seen within this essay's photos:

How Antonio's work increased my awareness of the beauty of lines, geometry, patterns, and textures is clearly evident in Tuscan Summer Wheat, Tuscan Zigzag and Triangles, Tuscan Rows, and In a Tuscan Doorway. Besides interesting lines, textures, and movement, Tuscan Wheat Trails reflects how much Antonio loves downhill skiing.

That Way also features some interesting lines, plus Adriana not walking in the direction the arrow is pointing says something of the touch of humor in some of Antonio's pictures. Big Bike; Little Bike also has that kind of humorous slant.

Initially the line pattern in Bound Madonna and Child attracted me and then the way they overlap the image of Madonna and Child brought to mind continued suppression of women and children throughout the world, which reminded me of how some of Antonio's photos make a political statement, such as Big Brother in The World of Tomorrow theme.

Lovers in Padova captures a sense of place, involving local history, art, romance, geometry, a bit of humor, and movement, plus for me represents Antonio and Adriana's love for Padova and Antonio's artistic talents as a sculptor, as well as a photographer.

In Photographer at Play I see Antonio's playfulness as well as his passion for photography and the Tuscan countryside.

Home and Family Roots speaks to me of Antonio and Adriana's deep family roots in Padova and the importance of home and family. Also this shot represents the only time Antonio and I captured the same subject at the same time (a river reflection in Dolo). Antonio's image, The Rest of the Evening, is clearly different from mine, punctuating the fact that no matter how much our work is impacted by photographers we admire, our photos, if we're true to ourselves, convey our unique perception of moments in time through the lens of a camera and how we choose to edit those images.

So if you're a newbie photographer and JPGer, and an awestruck fan like I was, maybe my confession and what followed helped define the JPG community as not only a valuable resource to help you achieve your photography goals, but a means of connecting with people all over the world, and in some instances leading to lasting friendships.

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26 responses


    JOE FAILK gave props (23 Jul 2009):

    Great story and photos!

  • Regenia Brabham

    Regenia Brabham (Deleted) gave props (24 Jul 2009):

    I do wish we could favorite stories. This is fantastic!! Your images are incredible.

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (24 Jul 2009):

    This articles does not also shows how great a writer you are but also a great photographer. The greatest bonus of all is that you and Toni found a new friendship that will last a lifetime. My vote on this outstanding article, Deb.

  • lowison

    lowison gave props (25 Jul 2009):

    Yeah , my vote: I completely agree Deb!!

  • Mary Brown

    Mary Brown gave props (26 Jul 2009):

    Wonderful story and photos. Excellent advice for new JPGers.

  • Lanis Rossi

    Lanis Rossi gave props (26 Jul 2009):

    Great photo essay! Voted!

  • Rob Roy

    Rob Roy (Deleted) gave props (27 Jul 2009):

    VERY interestin... and well done, Deb!! Kudos to you both!!

  • Ann Reece

    Ann Reece gave props (27 Jul 2009):

    Very interesting story and written very well. Wonderful photos : ) I voted yea!

  • Karen Foto Fiddler

    Karen Foto Fiddler (Deleted) gave props (27 Jul 2009):

    I loved your story and photos with it! It has to get published!!!!! You are so talented.VOTE!

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (27 Jul 2009):

    Deborah, I think that you have described the "Arts" beautifully, because whether it is writing, photography, visual art, theater, dance, music, opera, cinema or any other art form, what you have written is entirely true. Your photographs are exceptional and your writing describes the arts to a T, one can collaborate in different forms and still reach the goals you are aiming for. As for photography, I too believe that JPG has a tremendous amount to offer, the opportunity of studying amateur and professional excellent photography, the give and take between members, the opportunity to learn from others who are willing to give you their time and most of all the availability of progressing through trial and error.

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (28 Jul 2009):

    Your essay is very well written ..You are gifted in both your writing and in your photography which tells a story in each image and we learn to see the world in a new and inventive way through your work.

  • Joy B

    Joy B gave props (29 Jul 2009):

    I so vote yes on this!

  • Suzanne McGeady

    Suzanne McGeady said (30 Jul 2009):

    Well being a newbie to the medium of photography, I am awestruck, continually, by the amazing images produced by JPGers. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder....and Deb the beauty that you create always for others to see, makes others, like me, aspire for just a smidgen of your talent.

    Thank you for sharing, and thank you for letting others grow alongside you.

  • Spectre Photo

    Spectre Photo gave props (10 Aug 2009):

    I hope this gets published, this is wonderful insightful and real. Awesome. Wish I could vote twice.

  • Alain Daoud

    Alain Daoud gave props (31 Aug 2009):

    great story ...thank you for sharing ...voted!!!

  • Mandy GMW

    Mandy GMW said (31 Aug 2009):

    your story has really left me with many thoughts. I love your insight and thanks for sharing your experience with us. You have definitely inspired me.

  • Maura Wolfson-Foster

    Maura Wolfson-Foster gave props (5 Jan 2010):

    I voted for this a LONG time ago, but forgot to tell you how very much I enjoyed, both, your story and the photos....SO EXCELLENT ~ ! :)

  • Zerina Phillip

    Zerina Phillip gave props (16 Jan 2010):

    Beautiful photos and story to go with it.. Fantastic.

  • Leslie Hunziker

    Leslie Hunziker   gave props (12 Mar 2010):

    Such a wonderful tribute Deborah! It's obvious how you've grown both in your photography and writing as a result of this friendship. I can't think of anything more meaningful than that kind of connection!

  • Debbie Smartt

    Debbie Smartt gave props (7 Nov 2011):

    Wonderful story! I love how JPG brings us together!

  • The Man Who Isn't There

    The Man Who Isn't There (Deleted) gave props (14 Nov 2011):

    Great essay and beautiful photos. Got my vote!

  • Suzanne McGeady

    Suzanne McGeady said (30 Jan 2012):

    This an incredible touching and informative piece, Deb. So glad you have got to know each other, as friends and as contemporaries. I'm still awestruck by 'our' JPGers professional quality of photography.

  • Winky Vivas

    Winky Vivas (Deleted) said (3 Feb 2012):

    A wonderful essay and photos! Got my vote!

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (4 Feb 2012):

    came to re read this photo essay.This article deserves to be the Story of the Week!

  • Christopher J Chalk

    Christopher J Chalk gave props (17 Feb 2012):

    A wonderful essay Deb. I agree with everything you said, photography is not just about clicking a camera it creates friendships, teaches you to study the subject and be active! .........Chris ☺

  • Ioana Caravan

    Ioana Caravan   gave props (6 Mar 2012):

    I can better “feel” the story now, after I have participated to my first meet-up in Phoenix, AZ. Your essay is wonderful!

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